As riders hit northern Illinois roadways and enjoy the warmer weather and fresh air, they’ll also need to be on the lookout for dangerous situations on the road.

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Slick spring and summer roads create a unique hazard, as do the many potholes that come with the season. However, the main issue for most motorcycles isn’t road conditions, it’s other drivers.

Basic physics

Most people have seen a bumper sticker or billboard with the “Start Seeing Motorcycles” message. It’s a long-running campaign that calls for heightened awareness from other motorists who can sometimes miss the smaller vehicles that share the road.

The average new car weighs around 4,000 pounds, while many motorcycles weight closer to 500 pounds. Like cars, motorcycle weights vary significantly based on their design. Regardless, the numbers here illustrate the major threat in a collision: a massive size difference. Basic physics mean that the smaller vehicle will receive more force in a collision, likely causing more damage and serious injury.

Heightened risk

In 2015 (the last year with complete data in Illinois), motorcycles were only 1.1 percent of total accidents, but 15.8 percent of fatalities. Accident reports show that motorcyclists were driving straight ahead in more than half of accidents, while other leading causes were making turns, passing, and being stopped in traffic. In many of these instances, it’s not motorcyclist technique, but another vehicle at fault.

In addition to the size difference between a four-wheeled vehicle and a two-wheeler, motorcycles are also closer to the road. That connection between driver, machine and the open road is part of the appeal to riders, but it also makes motorcyclists more vulnerable to ejection, road rash and other severe injuries that an enclosed passenger doesn’t face.

Sharing the road

The vast majority of motorcyclists are safe drivers who are concerned about their own well-being and are knowledgeable about the danger other vehicles pose. The statistics confirm this, as only one percent of total accidents involve motorcycles. The safety concern is that when accidents do happen, they are severe with life-altering consequences. If you or a loved one has been in a motorcycle accident caused by a negligent or reckless driver, you should consult with an attorney to see what options may be available to help you recover.